There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding uterine fibroids, which is why we've taken it upon ourselves to share the facts. Around 80% of women may develop fibroids by the time they turn 50. The problem is, few women know the signs or understand what fibroids mean for their health.
Our team at Texas Urogynecology & Laser Surgery Center, created this guide to teach you the facts about uterine fibroids. Here’s what you need to know!
Myth #1: Fibroids are cancer
Fact: Fibroids are benign or noncancerous growths. They are sometimes called tumors — a term often associated with cancer. However, tumors are masses of abnormal tissue and, in most cases, aren't cancerous.
Fibroids vary in size. You may have a fibroid as small as a grain of rice, or your fibroid could grow to the size of a grapefruit. They can also grow in or on either side of your uterine wall.
Myth #2: A hysterectomy is the only way to treat fibroids
Fact: Depending on the size or number of your fibroids, you may not need to have treatment. If you don’t have disruptive symptoms, our doctors may recommend waiting and watching the fibroids.
However, if your fibroids are interfering with your health and wellness, we offer a wide range of minimally invasive treatment options. A few examples include robotic surgery and laparoscopic myomectomies. In severe cases, a hysterectomy may be your best treatment option.
Myth #3: Uterine fibroids always cause infertility
Fact: Uterine fibroids can make pregnancy more complicated, but not impossible. For example, a fibroid could block one of your fallopian tubes or change the shape of your cervix. If you want to have children, our doctors can provide treatment to remove your fibroids and preserve your fertility.
Myth #4: Fibroids only impact women in their 30s and 40s
Fact: Your risk of developing uterine fibroids increases with age and peaks in your 30s and 40s. But, you can develop fibroids at any point during your reproductive years. Young women in their teens and 20s can get fibroids as well as women in their 50s or older. Your risk of fibroids decreases as you approach and reach menopause as your estrogen and progesterone levels drop.
Myth #5: Fibroids always cause painful symptoms
Fact: Most of the time, fibroids don’t cause any symptoms. In fact, the number of women with fibroids may be grossly underestimated because so many women go undiagnosed.
What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?
When fibroids do cause symptoms, they’re typically painful and disruptive. Some of the common signs of fibroids include:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Pelvic pain and severe menstrual cramping
- Pelvic pressure or feeling of fullness
- Pain during sex
- Frequent urination
- Abdominal swelling
- Difficulty getting pregnant
Many reproductive health problems can cause similar symptoms. If you have any of these warning signs, it’s critical to schedule an exam for an accurate diagnosis. Our doctors can use a variety of diagnostic tools such as ultrasounds, MRIs, and hysteroscopy to identify the condition causing your symptoms.
How are fibroids treated?
In some cases, you can manage fibroids with over-the-counter painkillers and hormonal contraception methods. For example, birth control pills and shots have been known to be effective. In other cases, you may need surgery to remove the growths. Some of the available procedures include:
- Myomectomy - fibroid removal
- Myolysis - minimally invasive procedure to destroy fibroids with an electric current or freezing
- Uterine fibroid embolization - a procedure to block or damage the blood vessel feeding the fibroid
- Hysterectomy - uterus removal
If you’re concerned about fibroids, contact us to make an appointment. Our goal is to restore your reproductive health. Don't wait to reach out.